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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

We have seen many waterfalls but Igazú deserves the title "Wonder of Nature".

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

An adventure land in the middle of the jungle - tropical camping and water fun at Refugio Canaã
The waterfalls of Igazú, an impressive natural spectacle with unique dimensions
About shopping, repairs and everything else that is part of everyday travel
Our take-aways from Brazil - warmth and pure joie de vivre stay in our mind

We have now finally left the Pantanal, as we were staying in the north much longer than planned. We might do the southern part coming from Bolivia next year. We decide to skip Bonito. The place is said to be very similar to Bom Jardim which we just visited (>>> see our last blog), but much more touristy and overpriced. Following the recommendation of our Brazilian friend Paulo, we drive to Refugio Canaã. It's more than just a campsite. A beautiful place in the Brazilian Serra da Bodoquena, in the middle of a green valley crossed by the Rio Salobra. We want to spend the weekend there. We already know that a weekend is not the best time to seek quiet in a Brazilian campsite. But we have to be somewhere and prepare ourselves mentally. We are all the more surprised when we share the huge area with only one Brazilian couple on Friday evening as we arrive. We choose a nice spot under a tree with a hammock, picnic table, electricity, etc.

Refugio Canaã in der Serra da Bodoquena Brasilien Bonito kristall klare Flüsse Schnorcheln Baden Camping Highlight Marion Michael Marquardt mmq Photography
Refugio Canaã in Serra da Bodoquena

Unfortunately, the relaxation does not last long. The next morning we are woken up by rumbling and loud music... At half past six, mind you. When we look out of our bedroom window, we can hardly believe our eyes. Five pickups are parking around us. The music is blaring loudly from several speakers, women are making sandwiches and men are carrying a freezer (really!) from the truck. Oh my God. No more peace and privacy. We use the last few minutes before the smoker is set up in front of our hood to change places. Unfortunately, this only helps to a limited extent, as there is virtually no escape on the campsite. Every corner is occupied by another "clan". So take it easy, drink a caipirinha and swing your booty to the music.

The place is very beautiful and absolutely recommended. The river that crosses the site is just one big adventure pool. Right in the middle of green jungle. We can float along the current on tires, do somersaults on the self-made diving board or just hang out in one of the water hammocks. The highlight definitely is the "Tirolesa" - the Brazilian word for zip line. It runs from an 8m high platform into the river, you literally have the jump height in your own hands. You should definitely let go before you end up in the lianas on the other bank :-) A lot of fun! I feel like a child. Around us, hyazinth macaws, peacocks and many other birds. There is also a beautiful platform from which one has a fantastic view of the valley and the surrounding countryside. And all this is actually included in the (not overpriced) camping fee. However, what is also included is the live band, which fills the area with sound until 10 p.m. on Saturdays. But like I said, drink a caipirinha...

Refugio Canaã in der Serra da Bodoquena Brasilien Bonito kristall klare Flüsse Schnorcheln Baden Camping Highlight Marion Michael Marquardt mmq Photography
Floating in Refugio Canaã, just relax

Refugio Canaã in der Serra da Bodoquena Brasilien Bonito kristall klare Flüsse Schnorcheln Baden Camping Highlight Marion Michael Marquardt mmq Photography
What a view! Surrounded by nature - Refugio Canaã

Where we are at sugar, it is an issue here in Brazil. Simply everything is sweetened or sugared. Even the coffee is already "pre-sweetened" and only served that way. Although the Brazilians do have high quality coffee, you search in vain for portafilter machines and roasted coffee. What a pity... The mismanagement of society already begins in the supermarket. Everything that is sugary and fatty, as well as meat, is dirt cheap and offered in all variations. The packaging is also misleading. Even additionally sweetened yoghurts and milk are described as "natural"; the truth can only be discovered by carefully studying the ingredients. It doesn't surprise that the majority of Brazilians are overweight.

Us however, consciously look for healthy alternatives. We are particularly impressed by the diverse selection of fruit and vegetables. Tropical fruits such as mamão, maracujá or dragon fruit, which are only rarely found in Germany and are quite overpriced, are plentiful here. And not only in the supermarket, but often directly from the tree. We also discover countless new fruits that we have never seen before, such as the cupuaçu, a cocoa-like fruit that tastes tart-sweet and has a very dry texture, and the cashew apple (editor's note: the cashew nut that we know in Europe is the core, which grows outside of the actual fruit. The cashew apple itself is very sensitive and therefore not suitable for export. It tastes delicious and is very juicy.).

Cashew Apfel Brasilien Bonito Obst Gemüse Essen
Would you have known where the cashew nut comes from?

In general, most supermarkets have a huge selection that goes well beyond the range that is usual in Germany. This is especially the case in smaller towns where there are only few shops. The town market has everything - from groceries and drugstore items to stationery, batteries, condoms, flip-flops, tools, etc. An all-purpose shop. Also good for us to get useful stuff we need for repairs. Again and again we have to glue, screw, etc. in our cabin. Nothing is made for eternity here ... This is of course mainly due to the heavy load caused by daily use and the road conditions. Just a few examples:

  • Hooks and other attachments keep coming loose under the load and the high temperatures.

  • The windows and skylights didn't withstand the first tropical rain, so we had to seal them with silicone.

  • A cable break of the thermostat of our refrigerator leads to the fact that the target temperature is now at almost 50 degrees. However, this has not yet been repaired, as "never change a running system" :-)

  • And then there are home-made problems such as the ventilation (which is also our heating), which kept shutting down with an error message. It took a few hours and a lot of arguments to find out that I (yes, it's my fault!) blocked the oxygen supply while packing the car. Not to mention the numerous tidying up and cleaning actions when we crashed into one of the speed bumps ...

Our next and for the time being last destination in Brazil are the Iguazú waterfalls. For a long time we evaluated about visting this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We're not fans of mass tourist attractions and I already was there a few years ago (Micha wasn't). Since Foz do Iguazú practically is on our way to Argentina, we decide to go there. The waterfalls can be viewed from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side. Opinions differ as to which is the more worthwhile one. First we drive to the Brazilian national park. We soon find out why we were so hesitant. There are huge queues at the ticket offices and access to the park is scheduled to half-hourly "boarding times". Well... it was clear that we weren't the only ones :-) After a short bus ride we are standing on the edge of the first viewing platform.

Foz de Igazu Wasserfälle Brasilien Highlight Weltwunder Unesco Weltnaturerbe Sehenswürdigkeit Parana Michael Marion Marquardt mmq Photography
The waterfalls of Igazú

Wow! What an impressive view. You can't even imagine the dimensions beforehand. As far as the eye can see, only waterfalls that make their way through the jungle and countless islands. We went on a Wednesday where the falls have a lot of water, as it is dammed on Mondays and Tuesdays. And there have also been heavy rainfalls the days before. In retrospect, we learn that 10 times as much water as usual was recorded that day. According to Wemerson Augusto, the national park's spokesman, 14.5 million liters flowed down the waterfall system, compared to a normal day on which is "only" 1.5 million liters -- per second, mind you.

Foz de Igazu Wasserfälle Brasilien Highlight Weltwunder Unesco Weltnaturerbe Sehenswürdigkeit Parana Michael Marion Marquardt mmq Photography
An almost unbelievable spectacle

Foz de Igazu Wasserfälle Brasilien Highlight Weltwunder Unesco Weltnaturerbe Sehenswürdigkeit Parana Michael Marion Marquardt mmq Photography
The bridge was closed to pedestrians due to the excessive water level :-)

The deep abysses of the falls can only be guessed at due to the rising spray clouds. You definitely get wet whether you want to or not. The waterfalls just never end along the entire 1.5 km long boardwalk. Everywhere there is a slightly different, attractive perspective. We are enthusiastic about the composition of lush green jungle, the inexhaustible amounts of water and the tremendous natural beauty. Nevertheless, we decide not to visit the Argentine side. We look for the less frequented places. Our next destination - the Ibéra National Park in Argentina. And with that in mind we are leaving Brazil after exactly 4 weeks with tears in the eyes and a lot of anticipation!

And what else did we learn in Brazil?

  • Don't rely on anything (crispy bread, network coverage, fast WiFi, decent roads, etc.), rather be happy if it's there from time to time.

  • The most dangerous things are not crime or wild animals, as our parents fear. In our opinion, it's the streets. Most of them are in extremely poor condition, with (often unannounced) speed bumps and huge potholes. Add to that the crazy way of driving of the locals. What comes to this the Brazilians are anything but chilled and constantly overtaking. We've heard of so many bad accidents... And the second most dangerous thing is the sun, which is easy to underestimate in the humid tropical climate. I turned into a red-bellied macaw after visiting the Refugio Canaa (not to be confused with the yellow-breasted macaw, which is native there :-)).

  • Don't expect anyone to speak a foreign language, if you're visiting a foreign country. English is absolutely not common, not even among the younger ones. But even if our communication is kept to a minimum (as we don't speak Portuguese), the people we met were always very open, curious and warm. Unless it was about the 7:1 😜

  • The joie de vivre is outstanding. Laughter, community and loud music are part of everyday life.

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